Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Puberty wears pants

I washed M’s jeans in hot water last night, which put me in hot water this morning. She’s at a delicate age…some experts call it puberty…I just call it hell.

This is my third trip down puberty lane—it’s not one of those experiences that get better with time. I have a new appreciation for mothers with more than three children…I also wonder if they take drugs.

This morning, M was be-bopping around the house, getting ready for school. The last sane moment I remember was hearing the dryer door open and close.

Suddenly, M was crying from the top of the stairs, saying that I’d shrunk her jeans and she couldn’t get them on. I tried to explain that jeans stretch out while you wear them. Based on the crazed look in her eyes and the way she was yanking at her jeans while stomping toward her room, I’m pretty sure I didn’t exist for her at that moment.

In the midst of this emotional turmoil, I had an epiphany. “Why don’t you just change your pants?”

I was already feeling relief—problem solved—when she turned wild eyes in my direction.

“I don’t have time to change! I’m going to miss the bus!”

More tears on her part, less patience on mine…

“I’ll drive you to the bus stop—you can choose different pants or you can go to school miserable, it’s up to you.” Maybe not my most sympathetic moment…

When I heard knocking on the door, I realized M’s best friend, R, was walking to the bus stop with her, and I felt a moment of panic. I didn’t want a scene in front of the child who’s practically my second daughter. R still likes me—she has her own mother to blame for everything.

I opened the door, whispering to R, “I shrunk M’s jeans last night…she’s not very happy with me.”

R just smiled, the ghost of her own mother’s failures flitting across her face.

I heard M’s footsteps on the stairs and risked a peek—she was in Capri pants and her eyes were dry.

“Has your mother ever shrunk your clothes?” I asked R, wanting M to see that all daughters suffer through and survive these little obstacles.

“No, but I’m pretty sure she’s changed the color of some,” R replied, more ghosts accompanying her smile.

Part of me smiled too, watching these two child-women slip out the front door, pants forgotten.

I put my own mother through a similar episode regarding a pair of jeans and leg warmers. Somehow, she survived me…I guess chances are pretty good that I’ll survive M :)

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